This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. So, whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you.
Bladesingers are strong combatants and have the following useful abilities:
A bladesinger's advantages come at a price. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about a bladesinger character:
Playing a Bladesinger
People who play efficient bladesingers should keep the following in mind:
Qualifying for this prestige class by 7th level is difficult. Bladesingers need skill ranks in several skills (Balance, Perform [dance], Perform [sing], and Tumble) which do not appear on the skill lists for many martial or arcane spellcasting classes. This means that prospective bladesingers must buy them cross-class (an expensive proposition given the meager number of skill points gained by many classes) or take levels in classes that allow them to buy these as class skills -- bard, monk, and rogue all satisfy this requirement. Luckily, an elf's favored class is wizard. A half-elf counts her highest-level class as favored, which also allows some flexibility when multiclassing to qualify for bladesinger.
Because the prestige class requires four feats for qualification, a prospective member almost certainly needs to take at least one level of fighter if he wants to qualify for bladesinger by 7th level. (Characters taking two levels of duskblade get Combat Casting as a bonus feat, meaning that such characters don't necessarily need to take a level of fighter).
A prospective bladesinger can take a level in many classes to be able to cast 1st-level arcane spells. First-level sorcerers, wizards, duskblades (PHB II), beguilers (PHB II), wu jen (Complete Arcane), and warmages (Complete Arcane) all fill this requirement, as do higher-level bards, hexblades (Complete Warrior), and spellthieves (Complete Adventurer).
Finally, bladesinger mixes well with several other prestige classes, namely eldritch knight (DMG), spellsword (Complete Warrior), and abjurant champion (Complete Mage). Bladesingers should strongly consider factoring a level of one or more of these classes into their development.
Sword and Spell
A bladesinger is never going to compete with a single-classed wizard or sorcerer in terms of damage output or raw power (and they shouldn't try). Rather, a bladesinger should use his spells to augment his own combat abilities. Any spell that increases armor class or ability to hit and deal damage is useful to a bladesinger.
Because they get into melee so often, bladesingers need good armor class but can't use a shield if they want to use their lesser spellsong or bladesong style abilities. While bladesong style increases armor class, the bladesinger gains its benefit only while wearing light or no armor. A bladesinger, therefore, should buy the best light armor that she can afford (and enchant it), pairing it with a ring of protection and amulet of natural armor as soon as possible. Shield, blur, cat's grace, blink, displacement, and stoneskin all make a bladesinger harder to hit. (There are also lots of other great spells for a bladesinger -- for example, shieldbearer and burning sword from the Spell Compendium).
Bladesingers able to cast 3rd-level spells should give serious thought to taking Arcane Strike (Complete Warrior 96), because it enables them to channel their spells into their weapon, increasing their attack bonus and damage dealt. Battlecaster Defense and Battlecaster Offence (both Complete Mage 39-40) both increase a bladesinger's tactical options in combat. Bladesingers of 6th level or higher who want to improve their armor class (particularly those with a low Intelligence bonus) should take Battle Caster (Complete Arcane 75) -- it allows them to wear medium armor while avoiding the chance of arcane spell failure.
If the bladesinger has no, or few, levels of fighter, they should also take Great Fortitude to boost their Fortitude saving throw. (This is particularly true of elves, who normally have lower Constitutions than half-elves). Bladesingers with several levels in classes other than their arcane spellcasting class should consider Practiced Spellcaster (Complete Arcane 82) to boost the efficacy of their spells.
Arcane Spell Failure
Arcane spell failure is a constant problem for most bladesingers until they get to 6th level. At that point, they can ignore the arcane spell failure chance of light armor. (Bladesingers with levels in beguiler, duskblade, or warmage ignore the arcane spell failure chance of light armor when casting spells gained from those classes). Like other arcane spellcasters who wear armor, bladesingers can overcome the problem of arcane spell failure in several ways.
Extend Spell: Some spells (such as false life, protection from arrows, and overland flight), when combined with Extend Spell, last for a sizable part of a day (although extended spells take up a spell slot one higher than normal). Bladesingers often cast these spells before putting on their armor, obviating its arcane spell failure chance.
Still Spell: Taking Still Spell allows bladesingers to cast spells without their somatic components. A stilled spell takes up a spell slot one level higher than the spell's actual level but has no chance of arcane spell failure.
Use Magic Items: While scrolls are treated as spells in terms of arcane spell failure chance, other wondrous items such as wands and staffs are not. Thus, a bladesinger can wear any kind of armor he desires and use such magic items without fear of arcane spell failure.
Wear Mithral Armor: Armor made from mithral reduces its arcane spell failure chance by 10%. The twilight armor special quality (Player's Handbook II) further reduces this by 10%. Thus, a bladesinger could wear a +1 twilight mithral chain shirt and have no arcane spell failure chance.
Sample Bladesinger: Valanthe Galanodel
Tall and slender with long, braided black hair, this female elf moves with grace and skill.
Valanthe Galanodel CR 10
* new spell from Player's Handbook II
Valanthe Galanodel had the following statistics before racial adjustments, hit die increases, and stat boosting items: Str 15, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 8.
Had a chance to try out the bladesinger prestige class? Let us know your thoughts on how it played or what changes you would make to it.
About the Author
Creighton Broadhurst is a member of Living Greyhawk's Circle of Six and a mad-keen World of Greyhawk fan. He has two young sons (whom he nicknames "Ghengis" and "Khan"). His house is an oasis of tranquility, tidiness, and order. In his spare time, he tries to survive the Savage Tide.
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